Indie movies are one of my favorite genres when it comes to movies so I thought I'd share with you all my top ten favorites.
10. Little Birds
Little Birds tells the story of two best friends Lily (Juno Temple) and Alison (Kay Panabaker) face a life-changing event after they leave their Salton Sea home and follow the boys (Kyle Gallner, Carlos Penavega and Chris Coy) they meet back to Los Angeles. Attuned to the yearnings of middle-of-nowhere teenage-dom, it includes just enough danger to sustain dramatic momentum.
The trip's beginning vividly captures the excitement of rule-breaking adolescent adventure. As things get darker. The two actresses perfectly communicate the crises of conscience and nerve that create a rift between the friends.
Little shocks give way to criminal plot threads that cast more commercial shading across this largely quiet, personal film. But the centre holds, and Little Birds never takes its eyes off the relationship it exists to chronicle.
9. Magic Magic
Alicia (Juno Temple) arrives in South America to vacation with her cousin, Sara (Emily Browning). When Sarah is suddenly called away, Alicia is stuck on a remote island off Chile with three of Sara's friends, including Brink ( Michael Cera), an American exchange student with a sadistic streak. Alicia is an insomniac who loses the ability to distinguish dreams from reality Magic Magic is more described as a dark psychological drama with tense overtones.
Juno Temple is excellent in the central role, and gives a performance of real depth and heart. She portrays her character’s growing insomnia and ever-increasing list of eccentricities convincingly.
One of the film’s few major missteps is the ending, which feels like a bit of a cop out: an attempt to inject either ambiguity or finality (depending on how one reads it) into a screenplay that wasn’t sure where to go. It does at least conclude with an effective shot on a boat, but the ending strains the affection the film has been building up to that point, and sadly diminishes the effect of the whole thing.
Ivy League Freshman, Aaron Milton (Kyle Gallner) gets a different kind of education when he falls for Linda (Laura Allan) a vivacious former wild-child who has returned to college to straighten out her life. The curriculum gets more challenging when Aaron meets Linda's sarcastic 14 year-old daughter, Beth (Britt Robertson) - who quickly develops a crush on him. Aaron has been accepted into a special advanced program at an Ivy League university, but he's also a gifted cartoonist and would rather study art. The woman he wants is only going to be his friend (because she’s like dating this cop), while he's not so interested in the girl who wants him (Plus he’d probably end up in jail if he responded, she is only 14 after all).
Despite some tonal inconsistencies and ill-fitting stabs at whimsy, all-around good performances, Fine's snappy script, and Michael Hoskins' original illustrations elevate Cherry into a sensitively felt and fundamentally sweet coming-of-age pic.
7. Cougars Inc.
Sam (Kyle Gallner) has been kicked out of every school across the country. He ends up in the last school that will take him and makes some new friends along the way. When he learns that his mother can no longer afford to keep him in school he and his friends start their own escort service called Cougars, Inc., to help pay for his tuition. Through this hilarious new job Sam and his friends explore the generation of Cougars who are desperately trying to stay young and loving every lesson they are taught.
Cougars Inc. has a great cast staring Kyle Gallner, Denise Richards, Ryan Pinkston, Kathryn Morris, Sarah Hyland and James Belushi to name a few.
“Cougars, Inc.” (shot under the title “Mother’s Little Helpers”) aims to be a “Risky Business” for a new generation, where sexual dominance roles have shifted to favor ladies of a certain age, with teen boys shedding their slack-jawed virginal appeal to become expert cocksmen, merely due to their youthful impulsiveness and alleged stamina.
6. The Brass Teapot
Based on the comic book series "The Brass Teapot" about mid-twenty year old couple who, in these difficult economic times, finds a mysterious, magical brass teapot which makes them money but there’s a price to pay. After realizing the teapots powers, John (Michael Angarano) and Alice (Juno Temple) decide that they’ll stop at a million dollars but just how far they will go to make their million?
For an indie, The Brass Teapot is also a mighty polished film, shot in widescreen and full of bright colors. There are some Hassidic beards that do not look remotely like they are growing out of the actors’ faces, but if a guerrilla film had to make one concession, I can live with the beards when the rest of the movie is so sound.
The story gets a little crazy to wrap up all of its loose ends, but it’s effectively crazy throughout so it is established, if a bit convenient. It still forces John and Alice to make the ultimate decision which is what matters.
CBGB follows the story of Hilly Kristal's New York club from its conceit as a venue for Country, Bluegrass and Blues (CBGB) to what it ultimately became: the birthplace of underground rock 'n roll and punk. When Kristal had difficulty booking country bands in his club on the Bowery he opened his doors to other kinds of rock music. Kristal had one demand of the acts he booked; they could only play original music. No top 40's, no covers. It was the credo he lived by, support the artist at whatever the cost. Hilly Kristal played by the legend actor that is Alan Rickman ironically became known as the godfather of punk giving a chance to such bands as Blondie, Television, Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Boys and The Police.
CBGB is a warm gloss of nostalgia over the rise of the punk music scene in gritty 1970’s downtown New York. The spirit of musical and visual energy nearly outweighs its fanciful superficiality around Hilly Kristal, who gave a lot of groundbreaking bands a now legendary club to make a whole lotta noise that reverberated throughout rock ‘n’ roll.
Frequent use of comic-book panels and sound-effect balloons as storytelling devices nod to the juvenile-delinquent fixations of CBGB stars The Ramones, while encouraging viewers not to take the film too seriously as a slice of rock history.
Mourning the loss of her brother/collaborator, a young rocker Hayley (Emily Browning) struggles to write music while juggling a jealous husband (Cam Gigandet), two kids, and a mysterious new guitarist Enzo (Xavier Samuals) who will stop at nothing to become the most important person in her life. As Hayley slowly discovers Enzo's dark and troubled history, she realizes she may have let a madman into her home and that her mistake may cost the lives of people closest to her.
Emily Browning’s Hayley is a very interesting character. Full of insecurities, she’s been able to perform in front of large crowds ever since she had her best friend and brother by her side. Now that he’s gone, her vulnerability is really apparent. It doesn’t help that the album is bashed by critics, and she’s completely believable in all her moments of insecurity. It’s a great look into what baring one’s soul for other people’s entertainment can do to someone, especially when that soul is scoffed at by those who are made privy to it.
3. Little Miss Sunshine
A dysfunctional family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus. It tells the story of Sheryl Hoover brings her suicidal brother Frank to her dysfunctional and emotionally bankrupted family. Sheryl's husband Richard is unsuccessfully trying to sell his self-help and self-improvement technique using nine steps to reach success, but he is actually a complete and utter loser. Her son Dwayne has taken a vow of silence as a follower of Nietzsche and aims to be a jet pilot. Dwayne's grandfather Edwin was sent away from the institution for elders (Sunset Manor) and is addicted to heroin (which you should never do, like ever). When her seven-year-old daughter Olive has a chance to dispute the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in Redondo Beach, California, the whole family travels together in their old Volkswagen Type 2 (Kombi).
“Little Miss Sunshine” paints an awfully realistic family of failures, and rejects in the vein of the fantastic “Junebug,” all of whom can never seem to fulfill the goals they want. The only person who seems to want to be rid of it all is Frank who is a suicidal man heartbroken from being dumped by the man he loves, and Olive an optimistic little girl who finally has the chance that her entire family doesn’t. “Little Miss Sunshine” is charming and never manipulative, its story is basically centered around a road trip, but the characters confined in the broken down bus they ride in are all pictures of failure. They all seem to be typical cliché characters, but Arndt breaks down the walls of stereotypes and really takes us by surprise by playing them as so much more. It’s a humble and utterly entertaining family dramedy about life, unfulfilled dreams, limitations most of us can never over come, and taking life by the balls whether everyone likes it or not.
2. The Butterfly Effect
Evan Treborn blocks out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds his diary that he’d written of his black out moments to help him remember what happens. One day at college he starts to read one of his old diaries, and suddenly a flashback hits him. As he starts getting deeper into his diary he realizes that he can change what happens but changing the past has dire consequences for what happens in the future.
In ‘The Butterfly Effect’, Bress and Grubo ingeniously make cinema itself a clarifying metaphor for alternative realities, using recognisable changes in genre to demarcate the changes in Evan’s circumstances. The early scenes of Evan’s childhood recall coming-of-age films like ‘Stand By Me’ or ‘The River’s Edge’, the later realities that he engineers evoke in turn the campus comedy, the prison flick, and the asylum drama, while Evan’s transformation into a self-pitying paraplegic is pure ‘Born on the Fourth of July’. These radical shifts in genre are an economic way of depicting the differences between Evan’s parallel realities, but – just as importantly – they give
‘The Butterfly Effect’ makes on the versatility of its actors. Amy Smart plays Evan’s would-be girlfriend Kaylee as sorority babe in one scene and crack whore in the next, while William Lee Scott as Kaylee’s brother Tommy goes) from psychotic bad boy to preppy bible-basher. Ashton Kutcher as Evan grows ever more desperate and deranged (and looks more and more like Jesus) as each attempt to improve reality engenders greater problems. Previously best known for being Demi Moore’s beau and one of the dudes in ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’, here Kutcher proves that in the right kind of alternative reality he really can act.
‘The Butterfly Effect’ is a true original – and while it quite possibly contains as many holes as Evan’s memory, half the fun is finding your way through them.
Cherry Bomb follows teenagers Luke (Robert Sheehan), Malachy (Rupert Grint), and Michelle (Kimberley Nixon) as they embark on a wild weekend of drink, drugs, shop-lifting and joy riding. What starts out as a game turns deadly serious when the three discover that they can't get off the wild ride they've set in motion.
Michelle fearless a free spirit and not to mention drop dead gorgeous catches the attention of best friends Luke and Malachy who both find her irresistible which causes a strain on their friendship. Their strain leads to a tense showdown that soon threatens to turn deadly.
Though the increasingly seedy elements of Cherrybomb are almost inkeeping with the mindset of the youths, there’s a tendency to reach for the shock factor to ply a reaction from the audience as so often seen in Skins. The gritty camera work echoes its television counterpart too, making comparisons unavoidable. Thankfully the performances from the young members of the cast carry the movie, outshining Nesbitt’s over zealous angry Dad, and though we’ve seen boys jumping through hoops for girls before, Cherrybomb’s got a sting in its tail you won’t forget.
So there you have it, my top ten favorite Indie movies. Let me know what you think of them in the comments an let me know what your favorite indie movies are I'm interested to know.